BATTLING THE TERRAIN: Spanish biker Joan Barreda Bort competes during the Stage 8 of the Dakar 2017 between Uyuni and Salta, Argentina. Image: AFP / Frank Fife
Argentina - A massive mudslide in northwestern Argentina that killed two people and forced more than 1000 to evacuate has led Dakar Rally organizers to scrap Wednesday's ninth stage.
The stage was to have run from Salta to Chilecito in Argentina's Jujuy province in the Andes, about 4000m above sea level.
But the mudslide near the village of Volcan left the rally portion cancelled.
The mudslide killed a man and woman caught by surprise early Tuesday and left at least 100 families without homes. Many more locals had to leave their housing, which was rendered unlivable for now.
The rally's Salta to Chilecito stretch is the hardest of the run, with 98% of it off-road.
Watch: Stage 8 summary
Stage 8 Summary - Car/Bike - (Uyuni / Salta... by Dakar
An alternative route and timing were being worked out, organisers said.
"Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be dedicated to regrouping all the race's resources in Chilecito so that the event can continue by starting the 10th stage, Chilecito-San Juan" on Thursday, organisers said in a statement.
It is the second stage to be wiped out in five days after Saturday's sixth stage was also forced to be abandoned.
Torrential rain has wreaked havoc on this year's competition and left competitors stranded on the roads used during Tuesday's stage.
Wheels24's Sean Parker reports that the Toyota Gazoo South Africa team are hard pressed after the announcement of Stage 9 being cancelled.
A spokesperson for the team said: "This is very bad news for us, as tomorrow's (Stage 9) stage was a key opportunity for Giniel (de Villiers) and Dirk (Zitzewitz) to make up time."
Above: Aerial picture taken on January 10, 2017 during Stage 8 of the 2017 Dakar Rally, showing the village of Volcan, in the Argentine northern province of Jujuy, covered in mud following a landslide caused by a storm. Image: AFP / Frank Fife